It's that time again. The last frost date here at Meadow Knoll is around the 20th of March, just about 8 weeks away. Which means that it's time to get growing. The seedlings you can see here are broccoli: Green Magic, an early broccoli that does its thing before the weather turns hot. The seedlings you can't see--the ones still under cover, on the heat mat, are cabbage, eggplant (Black Beauty), tomatoes (Porter and Small Fry) and peppers (Charleston Belle). The brocs and cabbages will go into the ground as soon as they're big enough to be moved. I'll pot up and hold the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants until there's no danger of frost.
Next up on the planting schedule: onions (1015Y--short-day onions), which I got online from Dixondale Farms, here in Texas; and potatoes (Yukon Gold and Red Cloud), also ordered online from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine. I usually put potatoes in around Valentine's Day, but since it's shaping up to be a warm spring, I may jump the gun a bit.
The long-term (3 month) weather forecast is for warmer and drier--not a good sign of things to come. But with the new well, I'll have water for irrigation: a big load off my mind.
Book report. I finished the umpteenth draft of the proposal for Laura and Rose and sent it off to Kerry, my agent at Levine and Greenberg. She'll be sending it off to her editors' list (I haven't seen that yet) in another week or two. To those of you who've asked: the usual timetable is for delivery of the manuscript 12 months after the signing of the contract, with publication 12 months after that. So we're at least 24 months away from the bookstore shelves. Don't hold your breath.
Nearer at hand: Cat's Claw, the 20th Pecan Springs mystery, which will be out on March 6 (the first chapter is available at the link). We've set up a drawing page, with an herb quiz for you to have fun with--enter for a chance to win a signed, personalized copy.
In the works: Widow's Tears, which has as a backstory the 1900 Galveston hurricane. The research has been hugely interesting and I've enjoyed pulling together real people/events into a fact-based fiction. The frontstory is a ghost story, featuring Ruby Wilcox. I'm a bit more than half-way through the project (too many interruptions!).
Texas drought and flooding. If you've been keeping tabs on this challenge, you probably saw that some nearby counties got a big rain last week (with a couple of tornadoes thrown in for good measure): 9" in Bastrop County, where flooding has compounded the problems of last fall's big burn at Bastrop State Park. (The park suffered the loss of nearly 100% of its beautiful pine forest.) Meanwhile, the wells supplying Spicewood Beach (about 30 miles south of us and only about 70 miles from Bastrop) have failed and the community of 1100 is being supplied by truck. For an interesting discussion of the issue of "seniority" and water rights, check out this Texas Tribune article. These are not easy times here.
Reading note. Sansom, of Texas State, says that another classic example of "oldest first" is the struggle in Central Texas between rice farmers, growing cities like Austin and residents of the severely depleted Highland Lakes (though this system, managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority, goes beyond and is more complex than the "junior-senior" rights hierarchy overseen by TCEQ). Rice farmers have been using Colorado River water since the 19th century, even before the Highland Lakes were created — and in normal years a few hundred farmers use more water than the city of Austin.